Steve Gilman - Interstate Council Policy Cordinator

Steve Gilman

Steve with NOFA-NY Policy Specialist
Liana Hoodes in DC

Taken as a whole, my ag policy work is soil rooted. From the start I farmed organically as a vegetable and herb grower in the Saratoga, NY area, 1976 to 2007, pioneering farmers markets, farm to restaurant and early CSA. I was a founder and president of NOFA-NY in the 1980's, followed by a stint as Interstate Council president and a longtime hands-on farming workshop presenter. In the mid-2000s I became the farmer manager of a USDA project called the North East Organic Network (NEON), a systems approach utilizing multiple research disciplines studying 12 successful farms from Maine to Maryland. From 2007 onward I've been the NOFA Interstate Policy Coordinator, running the regional and national NOFA-IC policy program.

My plunge into farming seems epigenetically determined at birth via a matrilineal lineage of hands-on growers from Great Grandmother> Grandmother> Mother> down to my sister and me. While my sister became an accomplished gardener, I went into farming - to the surprise and concern of some professionalized family members.

Now no longer in the business, my wife and I still live on the farm, happily gardening intensively in beds ringing the house growing a good part of our yearly food supply. I feel so blessed to still have my hand in! As for the farm, we allowed the beaver to come in and take over. They dammed up the stream running through the fields down below and now we overlook a richly diverse wildlife preserve.

How we find our Work can be a convoluted path. If anyone had told me I was destined for farming when I was in school I would have had a good laugh. And later when farming I sometimes wondered why I ever was a political science major. But along with the proclivities of my lineage there was a deep attraction there and it somehow made sense. Thanks to my gardening and sheep-raising Great Uncle I also learned a passion for political justice at an early age and a trip to the Capitol and Congressional offices in Washington with my parents when I was 12 left a definite impression. These days I feel my organic farming commitment has simply extended into further fields that are as critical for our health, social justice, environmental protection and well being as my organic farming ever was.